Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meditation Transformation

Even though sometimes it feels like nothing useful at all is going on, the last thirty years of near daily meditation has had a profound effect on not just my capacity for attention, but also my capacity for love. I was thinking about this the last time I pulled off a beautifully puffed up Yorkshire pudding. For years I couldn’t get it to rise into anything more than a soggy mound. So I kept beating it longer and harder, making more bubbles thinking that getting it all full of air would solve the problem. Then someone on a cooking show said how important it was to give the bubbles time to settle out before putting it in the oven so that the heat would create bubbles. I’d been making it worse. There are some things that can’t be done until things are allowed to settle. Like if the surface of the water is agitated there’s no adjustment you can make to settle it that won’t make it worse. And once everything is settled, clear reflection is possible, unclouded by the previous time. Response is not distorted by disturbances in the past. And once the thoughts have settled during meditation there’s just awareness. Those that study the brainwaves of meditators have observed a synchronization of brainwaves in both hemispheres. There are pages and pages of sites with tapes and videos geared to this aspect of meditation. As one of them said, having the sounds, like chanting or drumming, helps you stay with the meditation until the end. Wikipedia uses the term “hemispheric entrainment” and writes,

“A person with similar activity in both hemispheres is alleged to be happier, more optimistic, more emotionally stable and less prone to mental illness. Increased levels of synchronization are found naturally in people who meditate regularly and people who are very content with their lives in general.”

The meditation may actually stimulate that contentment. I’ve watched my own transformation from largely anxious and worried to someone who welcomes experience as it flows around me. Day-to-day conscious awareness is less plagued by my own thoughts, ideas about what isn’t or what should be, what I didn’t do or might have done. As Krishnamurti emphasized in his talks, suffering comes from our own thoughts. Even when physical pain is involved, it’s the thoughts that turn pain into suffering.

Even when it seems like the mind is all over the place, just watching and not getting caught in the threads gives them time to settle down. By building the skill of letting thoughts settle, it’s far easier to let go of troubling mental patterns. Not getting attention, they become more infrequent. When they do come they’re more transparent, obvious transitory phenomenon that don’t change the real issues at hand. When the barriers crumble, the love can flow because attention is an expression of love and when you meditate you have more attention to give. There is nothing more pleasurable in life than beaming your love out to it. How could you not be content?

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